All you need to KNOW about Humantay Lake In Cusco
Cusco is any traveler´s dream destination. This small city is a treasure trove of amazing gems to be rediscovered and explored. You might have heard of the famous Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the numerous attraction this city has to offer. This blog, delves deeper into the dazzling jewel that is Humantay Lake.
Located in the foothills of the gigantic Humantay Mountain (5 473m/17 956ft), it´s a 100% glacial lake, fed by the mountain that towers above it. On the hike you will be amazed by the stunning landscape and striking turquoise color of Humantay Lake. This is a definite must-see for nature lovers. You can simply join a day trek, that will transport you from Cusco to the trailhead and back . If hiking is not for you, then it is possible to hire a horse from the locals. For the adventure seeker that enjoys a bit of a challenge, then the Salkantay Trek with Humantay Lake included is just the thing for you.
Join any of the many different alternative treks to the lake, like the popular 4-day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu which culminates at the majestic Machu Picchu or the 7-day Salkantay and Classic Inca Trail which also includes the world revered Inca Trail.
What is Humantay Lake?
Humantay Lake is named after the nearby mountain Humantay, and is considered as one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in Cusco. Its vivid turquoise waters with the snow-capped mountain of Salkantay (6,270 m) in the background, reveal the true reason behind its popularity.
There are many people who do the Humantay Trek to help them acclimate before doing a multiple-day trek. The hike is a steep incline at high altitudes, however it is short enough to not be overwhelming.
Where is Humantay Lake?
From the Imperial City of Cusco, you have to drive northwest towards the village of Soraypampa. Its located 77 miles/ 124 km from the city in the Mollapata district, Anta province in the Cusco Region. The trek takes you through the Vilcabamba Mountain Range of the Andes of Peru from the village of Soraypampa. Lake Humantay is located near the Apus Mountains of Salkantay Mountain (6,271m, 20 574ft). This gigantic mountain slightly peaks behind Mount Humantay (5, 473m/ 17, 956ft).
How to get to Humantay Lake?
From the city of Cusco, you travel about 120 km by road. On the way you pass through the towns of Limatambo and Mollepata, until you reach the community of Soraypampa.
Once we enter Soraypampa, we start an uphill hike of about 2 km until we reach the lake. If you are traveling with a tour package, transportation is usually included. Most tour operators will also include breakfast and lunch in the town of Mollepata. Horse rental is an optional extra payable directly to the locals.
Can I get to the lake on my own?
Of course, you can; below we explain the route step-by-step:
- You must take public transport from the city of Cusco to the town of Mollepata. The bus leaves from the Arcopata terminal and costs around 15 soles (4 USD).
- Once you arrive in Mollepata, you will need to take a taxi to the community of Soraypampa.
- The taxi can cost 50 soles (approximately 14 USD).
- Finally, in Soraypampa, you have to hike to Humantay Lake. It is a 2 km hike and, depending on your fitness level, it can take between 1 to 2 hours. It is a very beautiful experience, but we recommend traveling with a registered tour company.
- We highly recommend doing this with a tour agency, doing it on your own can get over complicated and not worth the effort and risk.
- You need to have a very good command of Spanish and maybe a little bit of Quechua. Majority of the locals only speak Quechua, an Indigenous language of Peru
- Its also important to acclimatize to the altitude, it can be very dangerous to suffer from the more serious symptoms of altitude sickness without a guide to help you.
- Be prepared to possibly spend the night in Mollepata. The taxi taking you to the trailhead needs to wait for you because there are generally no taxis at the trail head. Once you return to Mollepata, it is a possibility that the busses could have stopped running for the day. If this happens, then you need to find a place to spend the night and resume your journey the next day.
- Beware that all prices are relative and highly dependent on your negotiation skills. However, as a foreigner it is lightly that the vendors will charge you a higher rate than stated above.
How much is the entrance fee to the lake?
The entrance fee is paid in the town of Mollepata and gives you access to the Soraypampa camp, where the lake is located. The fee for foreign visitors is 10 soles (2.5 USD) and Peruvian visitors pay 5 soles (1.5 USD).
What to do in Humantay Lake?
Once you arrive at the lake you can leave an offering to Pachamama (the Inca Mother Earth), usually in the form of coca leaves. Alternatively, you can make an ‘el hito de Piedras’, a small stack of rocks made as an offering to the mountain. You can hike around the edges if you have the time, giving you 360° views of this incredible scenery. It’s worth noting that if you plan to do a tour you won’t have time to hike around the outside of the lake. You can make it part of the way around with the timing of a tour, but not the whole way around, so plan ahead or take a private tour.
In Humantay Lake a thousand-year-old ceremony is held in honor of Pachamama, Mother Earth. At the lake, you can participate in the ceremony by placing stones to express your gratitude for arriving at the lake safe and sound.
In the vicinity of the snowy territory, just 3 minutes from the lake, there is an Eco camp where you can enjoy the magical experience of witnessing the sunrise and sunset. Later, you have time to explore the most fascinating corners of the Peruvian highlands.
Of course, we recommend you bring special gear for the cold in case you go camping. This is due to the low temperatures you might experience throughout the day.
The residents of the small community of Soraypampa offer a horse rental service at the starting point of the hike to Humantay Lake. Depending on your needs, you can get a one-way rental or a return trip. The cost is around 90 Peruvian soles (25 USD) and all proceeds go directly to the community.
What is the best time of the year to visit Humantay Lake?
The climate of the highlands and mountains is not very predictable. However, a considerable number of tourists visit Cusco during the dry season, which runs from May to November. This is undoubtedly the best season to visit the lake. The lake has its signature clear vivid turquoise color and the weather makes for a very pleasant hike, with full days of sunshine. However, during wet season (December to April) , the trail is slippery and the lake can lose its turquoise-blue color.
Humantay Lake is accessible all year round, unlike the Inca Trail. It also never sells out unlike tickets into Machu Picchu. However, during the wet season there are considerably less tourist because hiking conditions are not ideal.